Originally published in STEM Magazine, March 11, 2024

How Engineering Consulting Services’ Virginia Office Forges STEM Learning Partnerships

The Chantilly, Virginia, office of Engineering Consulting Services (ECS) is working with Cognia, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization providing schools with accreditation and certification services, to help educators adopt or expand quality STEM practices and processes.

Both Cognia and ECS, which specializes in geotechnical, construction materials, environmental, and facilities engineering, have partnered with Briar Woods High School in Ashburn, Virginia. The high school is seeking Cognia STEM certification to ensure teachers’ instruction has a strong STEM focus aligned with the organization’s performance standards tailored for STEM learning. Cognia currently certifies 400 institutions globally, the majority within the United States.

“We’re seeing a growing interest and demand for STEM programs,” said Myra Sawyers, Ed.D., Cognia Mid-Atlantic regional director. “We have accredited STEM academies, and because we offer the STEM certification, we can also help public schools. Briar Woods is the first traditional high school to undergo our certification.”

To help prepare Briar Woods for the certification process, Sawyers brought together ECS Chantilly staffers and the high school teachers in the latter part of 2023 to facilitate classroom collaborations. “Our people are helping to enhance the curriculum so that Briar Woods will earn Cognia certification,” said Leo J. Titus Jr., P.E., the Chief Operating Officer of ECS. He continued, “When I was in high school, I didn’t know about all the different engineering careers that were out there. This is an opportunity to get in front of people at the stage in their life when they’re thinking about college and show them how cool engineering can be. Being able to share that passion and excitement was what appealed to me.” ECS is covering the cost of the certification program.

ECS’ curriculum support has ranged from helping English teachers incorporate a technical writing component to introducing the concept of materials testing in an applied math activity. Alexis Herr, P.E., a vice president at ECS Chantilly, incorporated information about materials testing into a spaghetti bridge-building exercise used by 11th and 12th grade teachers.

Read the full article in STEM magazine.